The hottest champion on the UFC roster is arguably women’s bantamweight champ Amanda Nunes, and the next challenger to her title is probably going to come out of Saturday night’s main event in Denver.
No. 1-ranked Valentina Shevchenko takes on No. 2-ranked Julianna Pena in a battle that pits the sensational striker against the brutal ground-and-pound savant.
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Shevchenko is coming off a dominant win over former champion Holly Holm and fought Nunes close in March 2016. The Kyrgyzstan native desperately wants another crack at “The Lioness” and to do so she must go through Pena.
“The Venezuelan Vixen” is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC and is coming off a win over Cat Zingano that she believed earned her a shot at the title. But that opportunity never materialized, forcing the 27-year-old to get back in the Octagon to prove her point once again.
Once the fight hits the mat, Pena is one of the most dominant fighters in the UFC. She’s landed the most significant strikes on the ground (86) in the history of the women’s bantamweight division. She has taken down every opponent she’s faced in the Octagon, which could be an area of concern for Shevchenko.
The main event of Fight Night Denver between Valentina Shevchenko and Julianna Pena is the No. 1 reason to watch.
2 – Cowboy looking to win 5th straight
After putting together an eight-fight win streak at 155 pounds that earned him a title shot, Donald Cerrone is up to his old tricks in his new weight class. Cowboy has won four in a row and now takes on Jorge Masvidal in the co-main event.
Masvidal has been calling out Cerrone for a few months and finally got his wish when Cerrone accepted the fight on the heels of a win over Matt Brown in Toronto just over a month ago.
This fight promises to be a stand-up war, as both fighters like to trade on the feet.
3 - Ngannou gets first big test at heavyweight
Francis Ngannou has been one of the most talked-about prospects in MMA over the past six months. He’s undefeated in the UFC and has been a finishing machine, stopping all his opponents inside the Octagon.
But the road to the top was bound to get tougher. Ngannou now takes on former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski in a fight that can put the Paris-based fighter on the map.
4 – Top bantamweights scrap to stay in title picture
Aljamain Sterling suffered the first loss of his career last time out against Bryan Caraway and can get right back on track with a win over No. 4-ranked Raphael Assuncao.
The Brazilian was out for almost two years before he returned at UFC 200 to take on former champion TJ Dillashaw. Assuncao was in the title conversation before the bouts due to several injuries. He’s looking to reestablish himself as a force in the 135-pound division.
Matt Parrino is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MattParrinoUFC